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Thread: Western Force Player Review 2021 - The Forwards

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    Western Force Player Review 2021 - The Forwards

    It’s been an interesting and ultimately rewarding season for the Western Force. As someone pointed out on Stan’s coverage the Force’s Super Rugby Atearoa experience mirrors their Super Rugby experience from 2020. If that does turn out to be true then we’re definitely on the right track.

    Our CEO talks a great game and if the new signings can stand up then we’re in for some fun next year. The pack looks to be in good nick and if anything will be stronger next year due to being a year older and the addition of Rodda and late season form of Ollie Callan.

    The backs is where the real work needs to be down, particularly at half back. Sadly it feels like we’re starting pretty much from scratch as really only Kyle Godwin and Tony Pulu are returning of the likely first XV. Hopefully we can resign Kuridrani, Ralston returns in form, one of Strachan/McGregor takes up the full back spot and a couple of the new signings can step into the shoes of Cubelli and Miotti.

    Enough about the future though, how did our squad go this year?


    Loose Head Props

    Tom Robertson

    Has been a revelation this season. The fact that he hasn’t made the 38 man squad for the Wallabies hopefully speaks to the depth of front row stocks in Australian rugby right now as he’s formed part of a Western Force scrum that was a weapon in most games in Super Rugby AU and held it’s own in the Trans Tasman competition. He’s the template for the type of signing the Force need to be making until their homegrown production line starts to really fire.

    Angus Wagner

    Such was the form of Robertson that Wagner was reduced to a supporting role however at 23 he showed enough to be more than adequate in that role. Came off the bench in most games and was usually part of the fast finishing Force scum that had the ascendancy and offered lots around the field including crucial poaches. The Force have two looseheads that make this a position of strength for the foreseeable future.


    Hooker

    Feleti Kaitu’u

    One of only two Force players to have made the Wallabies squad. His value is in his all round excellence. If we were to be picky he tends to miss one or two throws early on in games but usually corrects and has been part of a hugely improved Force lineout. Impressive around the ground, he’s a tackling and rucking machine. Likely to get a Wallabies cap at some stage this year.

    Andrew Ready

    After a promising 2020 he let himself down with a needless red card in Super Rugby AU and then struggled for a bit of form. Has turned that around a bit on the tour on New Zealand with some big performances to remind frustrated Force fans of his undoubted potential.

    Jack Winchester

    Got a couple of opportunities from the bench due to the hot headedness of Ready. Didn’t set the world on fire but at 20 years of age there is plenty more in the tank and great to see him get some Super Rugby experience. One for the future.


    Tight Head Props

    Santiago Medrano

    On the whole has had a very good season and justified the investment. Signed on for 2022 and that means that the Force can concentrate on other areas of their squad that need improvement/replenishment. At times would struggle at the start of games but usually turned that around and by the time he’d completed his shift the Force scrum was in the ascendancy. This augurs well for the future.

    Greg Holmes

    The evergreen tighthead is quite possibly still the best scrummaging Australian tighthead going around. Not bad at 37. He was a weapon at the start of Super Rugby AU before suffering an injury which reduced his effectiveness for a few games. I wondered if perhaps he’d succumbed to the inevitable advances of the years however he reaffirmed his worthiness with some dominant displays against good Kiwi packs. Another year left perhaps?

    Kieran Longbottom

    A fan favourite and like Holmes another very good scrummager in the twilight of his playing career. Only made a brief cameo this season and what really impressed (and perhaps surprised) was his excellent handling and mobility. Another who is great to have around the squad and be called on in a crisis.


    Locks

    Jeremy Thrush

    I’m not going to lie I have a man crush. His name is Jeremy. Each of the last two seasons he’s started able to play fifty minutes and by the end of the season he’s playing eighty and dominating all around him. He is the epitome of a pack leader. When he’s in the team the attacking lineout is smooth, the defensive lineout is a weapon and our maul is structured and effective. Take him out and we’re lost. Obviously Rodda isn’t coming to sit on the bench but I feel that if Thrush can keep up this form he’s got to keep starting. I’d go so far as to say that if his passport was Australian he’d be training with Dave Rennie and the boys right now.

    Siteleki Timani

    A fantastic mid season acquisition which has freed up Lee Warner to move to his more suited position in the back row. Timani is that towering lock that allows you to secure ball in the lineout, provides heft in the tight and is a general big enforcer. The tight five is generally an area of strength for the Force and Timani has been a big part of that.

    Ryan Macauley

    The towering lock got plenty of game time this season due to a few injuries and even when all fit. Is a decent fill in option however despite his undoubted presence he fails to stamp himself on games. Secures plenty of our own lineout ball but not a threat on defensive lineouts and doesn’t seem to use his frame effectively to intimidate or cause havoc in mauls or at the breakdown. Might struggle to get game time next season with the arrival of Rodda.


    Flankers

    Kane Koteka

    Mr 1%. Unlike many other 7’s in the game Koteka isn’t the guy getting big poaches and having huge moments of influence in games. He’s the guy that does one hundred simple effective things in every game. His workrate is phenomenal and over the course of the season he must make the most tackles and blow out more rucks than any other player.

    Fergus Lee Warner

    Another player that makes the most of every scrap of natural talent he has. Has been excellent in the second row in the past but has settled in at number 6 for the Force in the latter half of the season. His height makes him a valuable extra jumper in the lineout and his bulk makes up for our other options in the backrow who haven’t quite got the size of some of their counterparts, particularly noticeable when we played the Kiwi teams. Very unlucky not to make the Wallabies squad.

    Tim Anstee

    Started the season like a freight train with a couple of superb early performances at number 6. Always looked to be a bit light but his footwork, aggression and ball skills make him a definite star of the future. Will need to put some kg on in the off season but if he can successfully come back at 100+ kg then he’s another great option in a very talented Force pack.

    Tomas Lezana

    A very disappointing season which was cut short by injury. Showed some potential in pre season but was too inconsistent in his appearances with one or two anonymous performances followed by a stormer right before he got injured. Sadly for him and the Force we won’t get a chance to see him build on that next season as he’s accepted a move north.


    Number Eight

    Brynard Stander

    Was excellent in pre-season following on from a good 2020. Seemed to pick up some kind of foot/calf injury around 2-3 games in and from then seemed to struggle to hit the previous heights. Still has an enormous work rate but lacked some of his usual bullocking runs as the season went on. Perhaps that might have something to do with the way the team play.

    Ollie Callan

    Like hitting a birdie on the 18th hole, Callan is the player that makes you excited for 2022. He came into the side at number eight for the last couple of games and was a revelation. A local talent at twenty years of age, his form has justified the Force’s return on it’s own. If the Force can turn up one or two young Western Australians like this each year then eventually this will have a positive impact on the Wallabies depth chart. His late season form means that once again the Force recruitment is less urgent in the back row (possibly even the pack) and can focus on the backs.

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    Another great write-up.

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    Our forwards do seem to be a strong position this year. We've got decent starters and young back-ups in most positions.

    We might need to consider the succession plan at THP, as Medrano might not stay around beyond 2022, and Holmes and Longbottom maybe only have a year left, but we have Bo Abra and Victor Harris in the WTS (I've no idea which side of the scrum they play, though).

    I'm not sure I've seen Jackson Pugh all year, and his stats listed on the RWA website don't suggest he's big enough to be a lock; 194 cm, 96 kg - sounds more like a back!

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    Haven't updated his stats since U15s???

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    Thanks for the feedback.

    I'm really happy with our forwards going into next year and we've signed a few in the backs.

    Hope we can retain Kuridrani and maybe get another full back.

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    Scott Sio is very lucky to be in the Wallabies squad over Robertson. Robertson game has improved while Sio has fallen away and Sio was getting toweled up in the scrum.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Jeansyjive View Post
    Scott Sio is very lucky to be in the Wallabies squad over Robertson. Robertson game has improved while Sio has fallen away and Sio was getting toweled up in the scrum.
    Angus Bell got into the Wallaby Squad, too. Seems to suggest that they want big props rather than props with good technique. Usually with rugby you want a good big player over a good small player, but prop is one position where a good small prop can have an advantage over a good big prop.

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